Whey to go! Extracting protein from dairy waste


Every kilogram of cheese or yoghurt made,
leaves manufacturers nine kilograms of whey, a nutrient-rich liquid with many commercial
uses. But, for boutique to medium-size producers, this potential value is discarded as waste,
simply because there is no cost-effective method to process the whey. In collaboration
with the dairy industry, Curtin’s Dr Tuna Dincer and Dr Corinne Vallet have developed
a one-step process that will enable these producers to ‘capture’ whey proteins by
using readily available biopolymers under optimal process conditions, right in their
own vats. Proteins ‘precipitate’ out of the whey without the need for complex and
expensive extraction and filtration equipment. The remaining liquid has the ideal nutritional
characteristics for use in infant formula. Extensive research has gone into fine-tuning
the process to the point where products can be tailor-made for specific nutritional or
physical properties for example, for producing processed cheese, baked goods or noodles,
or creating protein that floats, making it ideal feed for farmed fish, or to be used
as feed in piggeries. In Australia, every year, nearly 280 million litres of whey is
discarded in Europe it’s 63 billion litres. This innovation is ready to shift from the
laboratory to the commercial scale. Ready to turn a business cost into an income stream.

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